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  • Obamacare Mandate Harms the Poor: A Case Study of Catholic Charities

    Ruby was unable to pay her rent and had been evicted from her apartment. Now she was drenched in the rain.

    “I was sitting out in the rain with all my stuff lying around,” Ruby said. “My daughter and I sat there all day.”

    That’s when Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C., stepped into help. Ruby went to the Harriet Tubman Emergency Women’s Shelter, a low-barrier spot for women over the age of 18 who are in urgent need of housing, food or case management.

    “They’ve given me a roof over my head, three meals a day, and someone to talk to if I have a problem,” Ruby said.

    In addition to serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the shelter staff assists the 100 women with life skills, employment, hygiene issues, drug rehabilitation and financial management.

    Diana, another woman staying at the shelter and former medical office assistant, has been taking advantage of the programs the shelter has to offer, including attending job fairs.

    “I’ve been working very hard to get myself out,” Diana said. “It’s not somewhere I ever expected to be in my life.”

    Diana and Ruby, who asked us to not use her last names, have hope thanks in part to Catholic Charities. But now, as a result of Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate, the organization might not be able to provide that assistance in the future.

    Catholic Charities of D.C. faces uncertainty due to the mandate, which forces almost all insurance plans to provide and pay for coverage of “preventative” services, including abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization. The alternative is a hefty fine that, in the case of Catholic Charities of D.C., could exceed more than $1.6 million per year.

    The mandate, finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year, prompted Catholic Charities of D.C. to file a lawsuit against the federal government. It is one of 58 plaintiffs taking legal action.

    During a campaign stop in Colorado yesterday, President Obama defended the HHS mandate. He also falsely claimed his administration “worked with Catholic hospitals and universities to find a solution that protects both religious liberty and a woman’s health. The so-called “accommodation” is simply an accounting gimmick, according to Heritage’s Sarah Torre.

    In order to be exempt from fines, Catholic Charities of D.C. would only be able to employ and serve Catholics. That stands in stark contrast with the organization’s mission.

    “We don’t do these things because [the needy are] Catholic. We do these things because we’re Catholic. That’s who we are,” said Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of D.C. “Our programs serve 80 percent of those who are non-Catholic.”

    Enzler added: “Instead of asking “what is your faith,” we can ask “what do you need.”

    In 2011, Catholic Charities of D.C. significantly helped the needy:

    • An estimated 37,700 families were helped with family services. These include supportive housing for teen parents, assistance for families considering adoption, emergency rent and utility assistance, groceries, case management, crisis intervention and referrals.
    • There was an increase of 115% for people who escaped dangerous winter weather in one of its 11 hypothermia shelters.
    • Approximately 6,000 employment referrals were made through itsSpanishCatholicCenter. These include connecting job seekers to job openings, referrals to job training and readiness programs and helping with resumes and the interview process.
    • The organization experienced a 52% increase in the number of people with learning and developmental disabilities who participated in the Kennedy Institute’s adult education programs.
    • About 4,800 foreign-born people, including refugees, asylees and victims of human trafficking, received assistance through itsRefugeeCenterand Immigration Legal Services.
    • More than 2,000 meals per day were served through Charities Catering, which employs adults with mental-health challenges or developmental disabilities.

    Enzler described this moment as the “perfect storm.” He said, “We have an economy that has diminished, people’s philanthropy has also become a little bit limited because their own income has diminished, and then you have the needs of the poor coming up.”

    Now the HHS mandate threatens Catholic Charities of D.C.’s ability to continue making significant contributions to help people like Diana and Ruby.

    “I’m just very glad I have a place to stay,” said Diana. “They’ve all been a great help.”

    Melanie Wilcox and Luciana Milano are members of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Obamacare, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Obamacare Mandate Harms the Poor: A Case Study of Catholic Charities

    1. Bobbie says:

      It's disturbing the power of unAmerican government unconstitutional force would interrupt charities that poses no threat, discriminates no race, creed or culture and is there by the choice of those needing help. The difference between charities privately funded and government increasing taxes to fund "charities" is the knowing or access of finding out where your contribution is going, if the need is actually there and meeting the cause. It's a choice to contribute not a tax increase to obligate. Get this government out of charities! They clearly put their interests ahead of America's and this intrusion is dangerously discriminating.

    2. Jim says:

      Pathetic. Religious extremism out of control. Catholic Charities will NOT stop helping the poor no matter what insurance plan they have to buy into. Even threatening to do so is immoral. Give to Ceaser what is his. The taxes Christ advocated paying went to a foreign occupier that killed Christians and Jews alike. For Catholics to refuse to pay for insurance that could be used by its workers to get contraception and thereby jeapordize its ability to provide care for the poor due to fines would be to go against the express advice of Christ.

      Zealots. Religious purity above human suffering.

      • Perry says:

        This is America, not the Roman Empire. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” Is compelling church members to fund actions with which they disagree and which are against their consciences any less sinful and tyrannical? Furthermore, Ceasar was an imperial dictator. Our president is supposed to operate within constitutional limits, which clearly don't include violating people's religious liberty by taking dollars that could have gone for charitable purposes and spending them on his own misguided priorities. Who is the zealot here? I think it is you, zealously defending a president who seeks an ever expanding post-Constitutional government with apparently no regard whatsoever for preserving freedom of free exercise of religion and conscience. And what suffering are you talking about? Individuals used to have no problem buying their own contraception. When government grows beyond its bounds, mark my words: real human suffering is bound to follow.

      • Andrew says:

        Did you ever consider that the real zealots might be those forcing Religious Organizations to violate their own teachings?

      • pcisbs says:

        Jim, look in the mirror for who's pathetic. Stay focused. To claim not adhering to an abhorrent, unconstitutional mandate is immoral, takes the cake. Foreign occupiers? Didn't you mean to say Radical Islamic murderers are killing Christians and Jews? Again, try to focus. Jim this is the 21st Century. The same repugnant statists who are forcibly revoking our inalienable right to worship religion as we choose, are the same people, are just not just coddling these aforementioned Islamic "nut- job" extremists; they're using our tax dollars to bring their radical teachings and twisted beliefs into our culture, in order to place their ideas on equal footing with the Judea/Christian belief system our society is based.

      • pcisbs says:

        Jim how "Moral" was it to the 1000's of orphan kids, who now will never be adopted by families, when Massachusetts forced the Catholic Church out of the adoption providing services by mandating that all Adoption providers recognize same sex couples as a family unit? Gee, do you think that maybe some of them would have preferred growing up as a member of a loving family, rather than in a State orphanage?

    3. rightbill says:

      Jim – I would submit that the government is putting political ideology above human suffering. There was no need to put the HHS mandate into effect. It was only done as a power grab in the form of an attack on the First Amendment guaranty of the freedom of religion.

    4. Monica says:

      Still confused that Catholic Charities gave Carol Keehan their prestigious Centennial award even though she defied the bishops by openly promoting Obama's health bill.

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